I have always wanted to be a husband and father. I love it. In no other calling do I feel quite as secure and delighted. (Note: I have exactly zero teenagers.) I am a family man. I’m not the poster boy for a family man, but I’m his eager, bespectacled understudy. I love my own family and seek to live in service to them. I am spending much of my time devoted to serving families. I marvel at God’s creation of the family, bask in the brilliance of his unrivaled design. I am troubled and heartbroken over a culture arrogantly dismissive of God’s instruction about families. I love my family. I love the family. You don’t get any more pro-family than me.
Except, I’m against The Family.
I’m against The Family as a rival, or substitute, religion. I’m against The Family as an end. I’m against The Family as an avenue of self-righteous Moralism, a weapon to stomp those who have failed to keep a clean record. I’m against The Family as a sentimental idol. I am against The Family.
When we see The Family as something to be worshiped, instead of something to be grateful for, we’re far afield of God’s will.
We can’t be for the family until we are against the family as an idol, as a substitute for Godward devotion.
There’s more, much more, than the family. Jesus famously said he would bring division in families. I don’t think this is faithfully used to support introducing unwarranted friction in a home, but I acknowledge that a believer in Christ in Saudi Arabia may face the task of bringing disharmony to his home by sharing his faith in Christ. He must be against his family to be for Christ.
If our hope is in our families, we are mistaking gift for Giver. It is usually not something like Satanic Church membership which tempts us. More often, it’s making a good thing into an ultimate thing. The family, as many have said before, is perhaps the easiest of idols to dismiss as harmless. But we’re wise to be wary.
Here are a few signs that may indicate that our own family, or The Family, is an idol.
-When our family fails, it feels like a world-ending catastrophe.
-When we fail our family, it’s feels like a world-ending catastrophe.
-We are baffled about how singles, including singles with unique and profoundly personal struggles, fit into the life of the church.
-We see the church primarily as a place where The Family is preserved, supported, and displayed as lovely.
-The Family is the focus of ministry.
In “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars,” poet Richard Lovelace wrote to explain to his lady love why he must leave her side and join the fight, putting his love for her in context of his deepest identity.
Yet this inconstancy is suchAs you too shall adore;I could not love thee (Dear) so much,Lov’d I not Honour more.
Lovelace was one of the famous Cavalier Poets. The Cavaliers were loyal to the King, through thick and thin. (Think of an English version of the famous Musketeers of Dumas’ fiction.) All other loves were subject to their primary, honorable duty to the king.
They are imperfect models, but the romantic view of these men is attractive, instructive, and inspiring.
We cannot love our families so much, if we love not King Jesus far more.
S.D. Smith, S.D.Smith.net